Spare Key (Fluff & Gravy)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
Originally from Austin, Jack Wilson spent time shuttling between Texas and the Pacific Northwest. While last year's local debut shifted from Neil Young-style Americana to progressive rock, Spare Key turns on dark songwriter fare. Prompted in part by a gunman who killed four people at Seattle's Cafe Racer, a place where Wilson performed – and had been aided by several of the deceased – some of these compositions grapple with the aftermath. The results are a chamber pop that recalls Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens, and even Brian Wilson. Lush harmonies, orchestral touch points, and prodigious hooks come together with a restrained amount of humanity. It's a suite of songs meant to be consumed whole, the august title track and twinkling "Cowboy" landing among the most accomplished on Spare Key, likely Wilson's masterwork.